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Supercapacitors vs. Batteries – A short primer

The Amperics edge

Energy storage is *the* key component for creating sustainable energy systems. That being said, there are no universally good solutions to energy storage.

Batteries whether legacy technologies like lead acid or newer technologies like Li Ion chemistries are based on electro-chemical storage mechanisms. The charge and discharge process in batteries is a slow process and can degrade the chemical compounds inside the battery over time. As a result, batteries have a low power density and lose their ability to retain energy throughout their lifetime due to material damage.

In contrast the supercapacitors store energy using an electrostatic mechanism. Energy is stored on the surface of the material, and does not involve chemical reactions. Given their fundamental mechanism, supercapacitors can be charged quickly, leading to a very high power density, and do not lose their storage capabilities over time. Supercapacitors can last for millions of charge / discharge cycles without losing energy storage capability. The main shortcoming of supercapacitors is their low energy density, meaning that the amount of energy supercapacitors can store per unit weight is very small, particularly when compared to batteries. Amperics’s HEDs technology increases the energy storage capability of Supercapacitors to be equivalent with Lead Acid batteries while maintaining the traditional advantages of high power, cycle life and wide operating temperatures. This permits Amperics to be an effective replacement for lead acid batteries in high power, high cycle applications.

Given the different storage mechanisms between batteries and supercapacitors it is not surprising that voltage profiles during charge and discharge are dramatically different. While Amperics is an effective replacement for lead acid batteries in high power, high cycle applications, instead of viewing them as competing technologies, it may be more useful to view them as complementing technologies. The ideal solution in many applications may be a hybrid solution where the supercapacitor handles all of the high power high cycle applications while batteries handle the bulk storage requirements.